Foster care program

From the beginning of the 20th century, foster care as an institution of child protection has been about taking care of a minor child –younger than 16 years of age- by a foster family or an individual. Foster care is used when the minor lacks the care and the support of the birth family due to temporary or permanent situations, such as parents´ sickness, an accident, parents´ unsuitability etc.

The foster family does not substitute but complements the birth family which is in a temporarily difficult situation, satisfying the child’s biological needs by offering security, love and the possibility to grow, developing his/her own personality and acquiring life experiences within a healthy family environment. Moreover, foster care contributes to the child’s smooth return to the family without the social stigma of an institution.

In contrast to adoption, in foster care the legal relations between the child and its birth family remain unchanged, unless differently defined by law (article 1655, Legal Law 2447/96). From the moment that there is no other court decision and the interests of the child are not endangered (article 1656, Legal Law 2447/96), it lies within the foster parents´ obligations to facilitate the communication and the maintenance of the interpersonal relations between the child and the birth family.

The basic character of foster care lies in its’ temporary nature; however, foster care today is characterized by a particular diversity concerning the duration and targets in every case. There are many types, or programmes, of foster care, based on the different needs of the children and their birth families as well as of the foster families, all being taken into consideration by the respective authorities and the courts.

Some examples of foster care types:
  • Foster care by relatives:
    In this kind of foster care it is the relatives who take care of the child, in case the birth family is experiencing problems.

  • Medium-term Foster Care:
    The duration of this kind of foster care varies but can last up until 2 years and aims at the return of the child to the birth family, when the latter gets over the crisis. This is an option that can be extended to long-term foster care.

  • Long-term Foster Care:
    It is the most common kind of foster care in Greece and concerns families who are unable to take care of their children, but do not wish to give them up for adoption.

  • Short-term Foster Care:
    It is a foster care program only for a few weeks either because the child is going to be adopted or because of a temporary crisis in the birth family.

  • Urgent foster care:
    Used in cases where the child's immediate removal from his current home is necessitated by extreme circumstances, such as a sudden crisis or other problems.

  • Day-care foster care:
    The children stay with the foster families only during the day.

  • Respite foster care:
    A form of foster care generally for a regular planned period such as one weekend a month or a week during the school holidays addressed to children who stay in institutions.

  • Respite foster care for children with disabilities:
    A form of foster care for children with disabilities, who can stay for a limited period with foster families so that their birth families can have a break.

Since October 2004, the Center has been carrying out a foster care programme, in the framework of which specialists and experts in the field carry out significant efforts to develop and promote foster care, in order to prevent the institutionalisation of children. Another aim of the program is to eliminate cases of dependence and also mistreatment of a significant number of children by their birth families. These are families that are not in a position to take care of their children, where parents suffer from mental illnesses, have psychological problems, are overage or having family crises etc.

We believe that raising the public awareness in the field of foster care, which provides the basis for child welfare and protection, is of particular importance to all actors in the field (birth and foster families, social services, institutes). The relevant actors here aim at developing a foster care network, focusing on the communication and collaboration between social services and a number of candidate foster parents or families.

Roots research plan

Adoption is a legal process, during which a child or teenager whose birth family is not in the position to take care of him/her is given the chance to be a member of a family environment. This could be because the parents are deceased or because their rights to their children have been terminated, either through a legal decision or voluntarily.

Most of the European countries, including Greece, use the method of closed adoption where the child is a full member of the adoptive family (article 1561, Legal Law 2447/96). The child is allowed to learn from his/her adoptive parents about the adoption but any information about the birth family is provided only to adults (the adoptee has to be at least 18 years old). This legal limitation is because an adult can better understand both the social role of the adoption as well as the importance of the birth environment for a person’s biological continuity. Roots Research Center carries out family searches based on the article 1559, Legal Law 2471/96, stating that the adoptive child has, after his coming of age, the right to be completely informed by his adoptive parents and from every qualified authority about the records of his biological parents.

After having received the request (within the relevant legal framework) from the adult adoptee, the Center works together with the adoptee as his/her legal representative in order to search for the interested person’s roots.

The following services are offered to adult adoptees:
  • Information on adoption law and on all legal means to carry out the search for their roots.
  • The Center’s continuously developing and regularly updated adoption database with data on birth parents and other relatives (siblings etc) aiming at locate adoptees’ roots.
  • Consultancy provided by expert social workers regarding the handling of difficulties during the search process.
"The adoptive child has, after his coming of age, the right to be fully informed from his adoptive parents and from every qualified authority about the records of his biological parents"
Legal Law 2471/96, on adoption, custody and minors foster care

Since 1999 the Center has carried out cases regarding:
  1. Adult adoptees in search for their birth families (600 cases)
  2. Birth relatives in search for adoptees (200 cases)
  3. Search requests by parents whose babies “disappeared” after their birth in maternity hospitals (350 cases)
In order to carry out the work, Roots is working together with all the Greek foundling hospitals, active or not. Regarding the inactive foundling hospitals, such as the ones in the areas of Patra, Athens, Piraeus, Kalamata, Herakleion, Crete, Volos and the hospital PIKPA, Roots collaborates with the social services that mediates and helps the gaining of access to their records.

Regarding the active foundling hospitals, the rest of PIKPA, Mitera, the prefectures and the International Social Service (ISS) the same procedure is followed but often obstacles are met due to the reluctance of the corresponding legal services to interfere with such delicate issues.

Roots Center has helped a great number of applicants both in Greece and abroad to reunite with their birth families, always using legally accepted means of search.

Another important issue for our Center is that many families approach us asking for information on adopting a child. Unfortunately, such a service is not yet available and we forward all these families to the relevant institutions.

"The reason why I conducted the search was to find someone I shared the same blood with… I wanted my birth mother to know that I had been thinking about her often..."

"Children simply come to us needing so much love and understanding. Foster care is a partnership. Children should have a permanent home rather than staying in institutions. Foster care really helps children who are experiencing a difficult time and going through a bad patch."

"I would like to know about my mother. What’s the colour of her hair... Is she in good health? Did she have a good and happy life?"